Northam Announces New Director of Diversity

Sep 9, 2019

Virginia Governor’s announced a new top-level advisor Monday.

Her job is, in part, to help diversify the state workforce. 


Janice Underwood is Virginia’s new Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. She’s the former director of diversity initiatives at Old Dominion University. She was also a special education science teacher. 

More than 80 people applied for the job. Underwood interviewed with cabinet secretaries, as well as the Governor and First Lady.  

Credit Old Dominion University

“We’re real confidant that Dr. Underwood is the right person for this job,” Northam said to reporters after the announcement. “She brings a lot of wonderful experience, as you see, a lot of energy.” 

Northam announced the position back in May, a couple months after a racist photo was found on his medical school yearbook page. 

Speaking Monday, Underwood says Northam hasn’t always gotten things right, but she respects his willingness to learn and do the work. Now she’ll be a partner in that work. 

“I’m really looking to serving the Commonwealth and the people of Virginia,” she said. “The Governor’s made it very clear that while I will report directly to him, I really serve the people of Virginia.”

Underwood will be responsible for addressing systemic inequality in state government. She says she’d like to make Virginia an example, because the country is watching. 

 This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.